Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: Pence's Hamstring Woes

Fantasy Baseball Injury Report: Pence's Hamstring Woes

This article is part of our Fantasy Baseball Injury Report series.

Hunter Pence

Once considered a model of durability, the Giants outfielder has been hit hard by the injury bug over the last two seasons. After missing a large chunk of last season with a fractured forearm, Pence will now be sidelined for a considerable amount of time following a significant right hamstring injury.

The hamstring muscle group sits on the posterior aspect of the upper leg. It's comprised of three specific muscles: the semimembranosus, semitendinosus and the biceps femoris. Each one of these distinct muscles is made up of fibers that run the length of the muscle. These muscles work synergistically to extend (move back) the hip and flex (bending) the knee and lower leg. Furthermore, the hamstring plays a role in decelerating the involved leg while an athlete is running.

Like all muscles, each hamstring muscle has an origin and an insertion point. At each point, a tendon or other connective tissue anchors the muscle to the underlying structure, most often bone. This arrangement allows for the muscular system to actively move the bones of the skeleton. Think of each muscle as the strings of a marionette puppet, moving the portions of the body to which they are attached.

Occasionally, these attachment sites can be damaged, most often following a sudden burst of excessive force. In some instances a segment of the bone will break away, creating an avulsion fracture. Other times the tendon will simply tear away from the bone, leaving the bone intact but the muscle unable

Hunter Pence

Once considered a model of durability, the Giants outfielder has been hit hard by the injury bug over the last two seasons. After missing a large chunk of last season with a fractured forearm, Pence will now be sidelined for a considerable amount of time following a significant right hamstring injury.

The hamstring muscle group sits on the posterior aspect of the upper leg. It's comprised of three specific muscles: the semimembranosus, semitendinosus and the biceps femoris. Each one of these distinct muscles is made up of fibers that run the length of the muscle. These muscles work synergistically to extend (move back) the hip and flex (bending) the knee and lower leg. Furthermore, the hamstring plays a role in decelerating the involved leg while an athlete is running.

Like all muscles, each hamstring muscle has an origin and an insertion point. At each point, a tendon or other connective tissue anchors the muscle to the underlying structure, most often bone. This arrangement allows for the muscular system to actively move the bones of the skeleton. Think of each muscle as the strings of a marionette puppet, moving the portions of the body to which they are attached.

Occasionally, these attachment sites can be damaged, most often following a sudden burst of excessive force. In some instances a segment of the bone will break away, creating an avulsion fracture. Other times the tendon will simply tear away from the bone, leaving the bone intact but the muscle unable to properly function. Pence appears to have done the latter and will undergo surgery Thursday to reattach the muscle to the bone. The Giants believe he will miss at least eight weeks, though it wouldn't be surprising to see his recovery stretch beyond two months. Jarrett Parker has taken over in right field, starting the last three games for San Francisco including Sunday's loss to St. Louis. Parker did manage to hit a two-run home run in the game but his overall fantasy value remains limited.

Felix Hernandez

Like Pence, Hernandez has been able to avoid injuries for the majority of his career. However he too is ailing and was placed on the 15-day DL with a strained right calf. While the move is retroactive to May 28, it appears as if Hernandez will not be ready when he first becomes eligible.

The calf may seem like an odd injury for a pitcher but a large portion of the power generated during the delivery of a pitch begins with the legs. A pitcher's leg drive is directly linked to his velocity and any limitation in one of the lower leg muscles can negatively impact pitching performance. A calf strain can be particularly problematic as it helps initiate the sequence and serves as a two-joint muscle, playing a role in movement at the foot and knee.

Even worse, a strained calf can have a crossover effect on the hamstrings. The origin of the calf complex is situated in close proximity to the insertion site of the hamstrings, with both muscle groups working to bend the knee. This location and the resulting codependence on one another leaves the healthy muscle group vulnerable following an injury to the other complex.

It's for this reason Hernandez' rehab will be handled carefully and conservatively. The fact that Hernandez has yet to resume throwing is a good indicator that the Mariners expect him to miss at least a few more starts. It may be frustrating for fantasy owners to navigate the next few weeks without King Felix and his 2.86 ERA but a cautious approach will make it more likely he avoids a re-injury and misses even more time in the long run. Seattle will continue to use James Paxton to round out their rotation.

Check Swings

Yoenis Cespedes: A sore right hip for Cespedes is compounding the Mets' injury problems, though the injury currently sounds more like a minor inconvenience. He didn't start over the weekend but was able to pinch hit on Sunday, flying out to right in the eighth inning. Consider him day-to-day moving forward.

Andrew McCutchen: The Pirates slugger is managing swelling and discomfort in his thumb but vows he will continue to play through the injury. The issue appears to be the area between his thumb and index finger though no specific injury has been provided. He did say the thumb is structurally sound, suggesting a ligament isn't the problem. He's using a thumb guard to minimize the stress on the area, but it's likely still altering his grip strength. Scale back your expectations for the next week or so until he can move past the problem. Pittsburgh may also be inclined to provide him with a few more rest days like they did on Sunday.

Yasiel Puig: Puig is strengthening my case for the seriousness of lower extremity muscular injuries. In what is becoming a serious recurring problem, the Dodgers outfielder was placed on the 15-day DL with hamstring strain on Friday. The designation marks Puig's third trip to the DL for hamstring problems since April of 2015. Until he's able to fix the underlying reason for his persistent hamstring woes, consider Puig a precarious investment.

Stephen Strasburg: It's troubling to see Strasburg dealing with a calf strain given the previous breakdown of Hernandez' ailment. However the Nationals are downplaying the issue, suggesting the strain is a mild, Grade 1 injury. Keep an eye on Strasburg's velocity in his next start to get a better idea if the calf injury is worth monitoring moving forward.

David Wright: The Mets third baseman will be out for at least six weeks with a herniated disk in his neck. The injury is particularly problematic considering Wright's lumbar spinal stenosis. While the two involved areas are on opposite ends of the spinal column, both issues result in limited space in the spinal canal. As a result, Wright could be facing neurological issues at two separate points of his spine. Furthermore, it sounds as if surgery for the disk injury remains an option. A trip to the operating room would effectively end Wright's season, making him a considerable risk moving forward. While there's no denying Wright value when healthy, he's simply too risky at this moment to warrant fantasy consideration.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Stotts
Jeff Stotts works as a Certified Athletic Trainer (MAT, ATC, PES, CES). He won the 2011 Best Fantasy Football Article in Print from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association.
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